Urban renewal starts with cleanup and repair

August 03, 2012

Although some of my neighbors and local political representatives think I'm a nuisance and new to our great state of Maryland, this is simply not the case. I was born and raised in Middle River, attended theU.S. Naval Academyand have worn a uniform in service to our nation, moving many times through the years. My family and I decided to come back home and be an active, positive participant in our community. Early on, I've noticed a few things. We are told that times are tough and that our municipalities are cutting back due to decreased revenue, crime is continuing to rise, and it is becoming harder to fund public education. I would contend new taxes, casinos, and lotteries are not the answer.

My solution is simple. Clean up our community, maintain it daily, and ensure it stays that way. This is Job One for us as citizens and our government agencies. There have been many studies concerning the positive correlation of maintaining public areas and the crime rates, along with productivity, and the ensuing economy. The studies and research show that those communities that quickly "fix broken windows," ensure trash is disposed of properly, and enforce to that end, have some of the lowest crime rates and highest economic engines. It works in New York City, London, and yes, in Baltimore County, too.

Here's the problem: During budget crises, our government officials think the first easy cuts are to minimize staffs that maintain infrastructure and public spaces. So we put off fixing and upgrading aging infrastructure, weeding and grass cutting occurs half the normal time, and we fail to enforce already existing littering laws (like disposing of your cigarette butts out of your car window). What's the outcome? More vacancies in business properties, families move to other locations due to increasing crime rates and decreasing school budgets, and companies choose to conduct business elsewhere.

Why is all this occurring? Well, the lack of proper maintenance of infrastructure causes normal power outages (because of above-ground utilities), police are now stretched thin to combat increased crime as it continues to rise, schools are faced with lower budgets since the income, business, and property tax base has decreased. It's your normal self-licking ice cream cone. All because it's easy to justify laying off or reducing maintenance and so-called non-essential personnel.

As I've written above, the solution is simple, create a safe, clean, and modern environment with revenue and laws that are positive for business, along with sustaining a world-class public school system and the opposite of what we discussed occurs. Crimes rates decrease, businesses flourish and pick your municipality for their headquarters, unemployment decreases, families move in, schools produce young adults ready for the workforce or college, and low-and-behold, tax revenues increase. All because we decided to keep maintenance personnel and focus on a few simple things as priorities.

Timothy Tenne, Towson

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